Monday, March 09, 2009

I don't care if it rains or freezes...

Life in northern New England is a long-term relationship with fire and ice. Winter is when ice dams build up on roofs of houses that could catch fire the next day from a heating system malfunction. And, malfunctioning or not, some form of fire has to provide life-sustaining warmth while water freezes all by itself outside.

That bit about water freezing by itself really seems to freak some southern folk out. If you've only ever encountered the domestic ice cube in its protected habitat, your freezer, a face-to-face encounter with aqua glacialis in the wild can be unsettling. Born and bred Texans and Floridians scare their unruly children with tales of dark and frigid lands north of Dallas or Jacksonville, where the nights are long and all life is frozen to death eight months of the year unless it can find shelter before the first killing frost.

As in any long-term relationship, those in New England's cold embrace do consider divorce. But as long as you're in the relationship you have to work with it. Fire must be built and tended. Ice in its many forms must be moved to more convenient locations if possible while you wait for nature to remove it entirely. Anything you can't move you have to live with, drive over, or stand out from under.

When the snow stops falling today I have to shove some around to get through the next few weeks before we can expect a period of hub-deep mud on the way to what passes for warmer weather. We got a foretaste of it this weekend. Then winter snatched the month back from spring's weak fingers.

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